Week-by-week guide to pregnancy

happy couple looking at pregnancy test results
When you're pregnant, you have lots of questions. Our week-by-week pregnancy guide is packed with lots of useful information. From what's happening inside your body, to how your baby is developing, and tips and advice on having a healthy pregnancy – this is your one-stop pregnancy guide!

1st trimester

Our week-by-week pregnancy guide is full of essential information. From early pregnancy symptoms to how your baby is growing and developing, you' ll find it all here.

Week 5 – your 1st trimester

To the outside world, you'll look much the same as usual – but on the inside, some amazing things are happening.

What's happening in my body?

Your baby's nervous system is developing, and the brain and spinal cord are taking shape. The tiny heart is starting to form and will beat for the first time around now.

Many women realise that they're pregnant around week 5. You might notice that your period is late, and you may feel a bit under the weather. If you're wondering when to take a pregnancy test, now is a good time as they are sensitive to changes in your urine from week 3 or 4 onwards.

Finding out that you are pregnant can be exciting, but it's normal to have worries too. More than 1 in 10 mums feel anxious during pregnancy. Try not to keep your worries to yourself – talk to your midwife or doctor. You could also try doing some relaxing breathing exercises.

Food cravings

Are you getting food cravings? Some people do, some don't. Pregnancy cravings are caused by hormonal changes affecting your senses of taste and smell. Try to eat a balanced healthy diet. If you have any unusual cravings, like wanting to eat dirt, talk to your midwife or doctor, as you may have a condition called pica which is caused by a lack of iron.

Early pregnancy symptoms (at 5 weeks)

It's still early days, and many women won't know they're pregnant at 5 weeks. Not everyone has regular menstrual cycles, so you may not realise that your period is late. You might notice some light bleeding, and think it's your period, but it can also be a sign of implantation bleeding (when an embryo attaches to the lining of the womb).

In the 1st trimester, many women feel extreme tiredness. Other early signs of pregnancy can include:

  • a metallic taste in your mouth
  • sore breasts
  • nausea - also known as "morning sickness", although you can experience it at any time (read about morning sickness in week 6)
  • mood swings (week 8's page has information on mood swings)
  • new food likes and dislikes
  • a heightened sense of smell
  • needing to pee more frequently
  • a milky white pregnancy discharge from your vagina
  • light spotting (see your doctor if you get bleeding in pregnancy)
  • cramping, a bit like period pains
  • darkened skin on your face or brown patches – this is known as chloasma faciei or the "mask of pregnancy"
  • thicker and shinier hair
  • bloating (read about bloating on week 16's page)

Read Tommy's guide to common pregnancy symptoms.

What does my baby look like?

Your baby, or embryo, is around 2mm long (about the size of a sesame seed). The face is starting to take shape, with a tiny nose and little eyes which stay closed until around 28 weeks. Your baby's brain and spinal cord are forming rapidly inside you.

Your baby already has some of its own blood vessels and a string of them will make up the umbilical cord. This cord delivers everything it needs from the placenta. The placenta, which is being created now, will give your baby nutrients and oxygen, while removing waste products.

Action stations

The advice for week 5 is the same as for week 4 - basically keep up the good work looking after yourself!

In particular:

Share the news with your GP or ask for an appointment with a midwife at your doctors' surgery. Alternatively you can refer yourself to your local hospital – look for contact details on their website.

You'll need to arrange a booking appointment. This usually takes place between weeks 8 and 12 and takes around an hour. You can talk about the options for your pregnancy and the birth. You will also be offered screening tests for infectious diseases and conditions such as Down's syndrome. Now is a good time to ask about the Maternity Transformation Programme and how it could benefit you.

You will be offered your first dating scan at 8 to 14 weeks.

If it's your first pregnancy, you will probably have around 10 appointments and 2 scans in total.

Ask your midwife or doctor about online antenatal classes – they may be able to recommend one. The charity Tommy's has lots of useful information on antenatal classes and preparing you for birth.

Antenatal classes will give you the chance to meet other people and prepare you for parenthood. The NCT offers online antenatal classes with small groups of people that live locally to you.

Do your best to stop smoking, give up alcohol and go easy on the tea, coffee and anything else with caffeine. Ask your midwife or GP if you feel you need support.

Take prenatal vitamins. You're advised to take 400 micrograms of folic acid, every day, until at least week 12. This helps your baby's nervous system to form and offers some protection from conditions such as spina bifida.

To keep bones and muscles healthy, we need vitamin D. From late March/early April to the end of September, most people make enough vitamin D from sunlight on their skin. However, between October and early March, consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement because we cannot make enough from sunlight.

Some people should take a vitamin D supplement all year round, find out if this applies to you on the NHS website. You just need 10 micrograms (it's the same for grown-ups and kids). Check if you're entitled to free vitamins.

Do you think you or your partner could have a sexually transmitted infection (STI)? If so, get it checked out, as this could affect your baby's development. Talk to your midwife or GP, or visit a sexual health clinic.

It's recommended that you do 150 minutes of exercise a week while pregnant. You could start off with just 10 minutes of daily exercise - perhaps take a brisk walk outside. Check out Sport England's #StayInWorkOut online exercises (scroll to the pregnancy section). Listen to your body and do what feels right for you.

There's no need to eat for 2. If you pile on the pounds, you could put you and your baby at risk of health problems such as high blood pressure. Eat healthily, with plenty of fresh fruit and veg, and avoid processed, fatty and salty foods. You may be able to get free milk, fruit and veg through the Healthy Start scheme.

If you have a long-term health condition, then let your specialist or GP know that you're pregnant as soon as possible. Don't stop taking any regular medication without discussing it first with your doctor.

How are you today? If you're feeling anxious or low, then talk to your midwife or doctor who can point you in the right direction to get all the support that you need.

You could also discuss your worries with your partner, friends and family. You may be worried about your relationship, or money, or having somewhere permanent to live. Don't keep it to yourself. It's important to ask for help if you need it.

You and your family should follow the government and NHS guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19):

  • read government guidance on how to stay safe from COVID-19
  • get NHS advice about COVID-19
  • use the NHS COVID-19 app for England and Wales – it's the fastest way of knowing when you've been exposed to COVID-19
  • To find out about about COVID-19 and pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding, have a look at advice on the:

  • NHS website
  • Breastfeeding Network
  • World Health Organization
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